Two additional candidates joined Democrat Mark Akinosho in the Ward 1 Sanford City Council race Thursday, meaning both the May primary and July general election for that seat will be contested.
Democrat Ken Britton filed for the seat on Thursday, setting up a primary between him and former Lee County Board of Education Chairman Mark Akinosho, who served from 2010 to 2018. Britton also sought a seat on the school board in 2014.
Akinosho, 67, a pastor, said he’d always been interested in the city council, but went with service on the school board first because he wanted to serve while his children were school aged.
“This is a good time,” he said. “I want to stabilize the taxes as we grow, and my priority is development that makes sense.
Britton, 41, a corporate strategist, said he would also focus on those areas in a statement sent to The Rant.
“As your City Councilman, I will accelerate our momentum by carrying forward the ‘open for business’ agenda, while leveraging my professional and civic experience to strive for prosperous and sustainable growth,” he said.
Also Thursday, Republican Blaine Sutton entered the race. Sutton, 61, is a retired educator and small business owner. A former at-large council candidate who attempted to withdraw from the 2019 campaign, he is also the husband of Republican school board member Pamela Sutton. Pamela Sutton’s seat is up in the 2022 election, but she didn’t file for re-election.
Ward 1 is centered around west Sanford, including the entirety of the Westlake Downs, West Landing, Carbonton Heights, and Owl’s Nest neighborhoods, as well as a large portion of Westlake Valley. The seat is being vacated by Democrat Sam Gaskins, who is running in the Democratic primary for Sanford mayor against Ward 5 Council Member Rebecca Wyhof Salmon. Republicans didn’t field a candidate for mayor, meaning the contest will be decided in the May primary. Incumbent Ward 3 Councilman J.D. Williams filed for re-election on Tuesday.
Additionally, a Republican newcomer filed on Thursday for the county board of commissioners District 4 seat. Taylor Vorbeck, 37, a business owner, will face Democrat Larry “Doc” Oldham for the seat which encompasses western Lee County. Republican Arianna Lavallee, who defeated Oldham in 2018, did not file for re-election.
The GOP didn’t field a candidate for the county board’s District 1 seat, assuring another term for Democrat Robert Reives Sr., who has held the seat since the 1990s. A redraw of the district boundaries in 2021 was controversial because of concerns about transparency and allegations that the move was designed to dilute minority voting power.
Finally, incumbent Republican state Rep. John Sauls, who filed for another term in the General Assembly for House District 51 back in December, will face Democrat Malcolm Hall of Carthage. Hall filed on Thursday in Moore County.
Democrat Richard Chapman of Fuquay Varina filed in Harnett County on Friday for the state Senate District 12 seat held by Republican Jim Burgin. Burgin, also of Harnett County, will face Republican primary challengers David Buboltz and Ernie Watson.
Filing closed at noon on Friday. For a complete list of candidates for races involving Lee County, click here.